So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
ASUS PG191 Gaming Monitor
- Excellent image quality, 2ms response time, Superior sound quality, easy to use, built-in webcam
- Fairly bulky, not widescreen
It's not widescreen, but this monitor delivers where it counts: image, response and sound.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
With superb image quality, the 19in ASUS PG191 LCD will appeal to gamers due to its 2ms response time, built in speakers, and webcam. However its size, and the fact that it is not widescreen may dampen its appeal for some gamers.
Whenever we hear the phrase "gaming monitor" our first reaction is to be dubious as we have reviewed many monitors that claim to be designed for gaming that are nothing more than a fancy shell with integrated speakers. A "gaming" monitor must have a response time around the 2-4 millisecond point and needs to prove itself with high performance while playing games. In our testing, the PG191 certainly did just that and showed itself worthy of the title in that regard.
We put the PG191 through its paces with an exhaustive series of tests using DisplayMate Video Edition. DisplayMate uses a wide range of test patterns to push a monitor to its limits and reveal any flaws. The geometry and distortion tests showed no problems at all, while the sharpness and resolution tests (used to check for problems when displaying fine patterns) were rendered excellently. The PG191 displayed the test patterns with clarity and precision. Colour and greyscale were equally good with nothing untoward to report. We were also impressed with the uniformity tests as we found no problems and no backlight bleeding issues.
Colour shift was exhibited at any vertical angle except looking at the monitor straight on. However we found its horizontal counterpart good with no colour shift at up to 170 degrees. With a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 and an 800:1 contrast ratio this monitor should suit the needs of most gamers. Naturally, we ran gaming tests to confirm that the reported 2ms response time (gray-to-gray) was accurate. Using Unreal Tournament 2003, we checked for any ghosting or streaking but found none to report.
Part of this monitor's appeal for gaming is the built-in speakers and sub-woofer, both of which sound excellent. At highest volume, the unit was fairly loud and showed no distortion. The bass was rich and the general audio quality was quite robust. We did detect a high pitched buzzing sound of indeterminate origin in the original test unit. We asked ASUS to provide us with a second unit and it did not exhibit the same issue.
The PG191 is quite large compared to other 19in monitors. It has a 40mm thick bezel made entirely from gloss piano black plastic making it look more akin to a 20in monitor in overall size. One of the benefits of LCD monitors is that they don't take up much space, but this unit is quite thick. The panel itself is reasonably thin but when you take into account the sub-woofer, which protrudes quite far out the back, the unit as a whole is cumbersome. The swivel stand, sub-woofer mount and the sub-woofer itself are all finished in aluminium and look quite attractive. We also liked the lack of buttons on the bezel; instead, there are touch sensitive sections with lights underneath that act as buttons, adding an air of sophistication. Two of these are hotkeys that allow you to quickly switch between different pre-set sound and vision modes according to what you are viewing, and these include options such as Fighting Game and Shooting Game.
The ASUS PG191 can accept both DVI and D-Sub inputs and has three side mounted USB 2.0 ports. It also has a standard 3.5mm jack to supply the monitor with sound. A cable is provided with the unit that connects the D-Sub, sound and USB functionality.
The display calibration options are fairly standard with brightness, contrast, colour and tint controls. There are pre-set colour modes as mentioned earlier but most of these only seem to introduce too much magenta into the image. There are also dedicated audio calibration options, including controls for the sub-woofer and SRS TruSurround XT settings with 3D WOW.
The top of the monitor has a built in rotating 1.3 megapixel digital webcam which comes with very basic software for image and video capture. Using the provided software, the image quality isn't particularly impressive with noticeable pixilation across the entire image. However, when using the Windows XP webcam wizard or an instant messenger program, the image quality is much better and the pixilation disappears.
The ASUS PG191 may be a little too bulky for some and may not appeal if you prefer widescreen for your PC gaming. Nevertheless this monitor delivers superb display quality, high response rate, superior sound quality and an attractive aesthetic.
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